SQL Murder Mystery: teaching SQL concepts with a mystery game

SQL Murder Mystery is a free/open game from Northwestern University's Knight Lab that teaches the player SQL database query structures and related concepts while they solve imaginary crimes. Read the rest

Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space sciences like astronomy and the search for ET

Through a collaboration with NASA and the SETI Institute, Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space science, from astronomy to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

“Part of science literacy is understanding our place in the big world, in the solar system, in the universe," Pamela Harman, the director of education at the SETI Institute, told Air & Space Magazine. "Once we realize that, I think it’s easier to think about protecting our planet.”

From Air & Space:

Girl Scout cadettes (grades 6-8) can earn the space science researcher badge by investigating properties of light and observing the night sky; seniors (grades 9-10) can obtain the space science expert badge by classifying stars and studying their life cycles; and ambassadors (grades 11-12) seeking the space science master badge will explore exoplanets through activities such as designing a habitat for an alien world.

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Regular expression crossword puzzles!

I'm on record as being a big supporter of learning regular expressions (AKA "regexp") -- handy ways to search through text with very complex criteria. It's notoriously opaque to beginners, but it's such a massively effective automation tool and drudgery reliever! Regex Crosswords help you hone your regexp skills with fiendishly clever regular expressions that ascend a smooth complexity gradient from beginner to expert. (via Kottke) Read the rest

My daughter loves LEGO, maybe their creative toolbox will encourage her to code

I am hoping the LEGO Boost creative toolbox will pair one hobby my kid loves with another she doesn't yet have.

My child builds LEGO as if she were Zach the maniac of old. We have a very large collection of Star Wars and some Ninjago LEGO sets. Slowly she has taken over every bookshelf I'll let her. She loves to build LEGO. Maybe this set will also teach her to code.

I used to play with Mindstorms. I just saw my two OG sets with a few expansion packs, as I cleaned out a basement and packed things into storage. This I hope this set brings her as much fun as those did for me back in the 90s. Boost seems to be the modern evolution of Mindstorms.

My friends and I used to build LEGO Mindstorms robots and pitch them against one another on a conference room table, late at night at our Dotcom-era start-up. The idea was to throw the other person's robot off the table. We'd devise all manner of sticking ourselves to the table, or prying, bashing, smashing and disassembling the opposing Mindstorm. People got frustrated after a few sessions as the robots took hours of assembly and moments to become LEGO pieces once again.

This set is more structured than I remember Mindstorms as being. This 847 piece set has instructions to make Vinnie, a dancing and guitar playing robot, Frankie the robo-cat, a working guitar and some other things I can't quite identify. Coding occurs via an IOS, Android and Windows app. Read the rest

Apple removed a teen's award-winning anti-Trump game "Bad Hombre" because they can't tell the difference between apps that criticize racism and racist apps

Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app). Read the rest

Barefoot Engineers: rural women from Malawi, trained as solar engineers, who are electrifying their remote villages

Malawi's "barefoot engineers" are a group of eight local women who received solar engineering training in the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India and returned home to install solar systems for poor and/or rural women. Read the rest

Girl Scouts in Indiana learn about mortuary science

A restorative art project that teaches girls how to create a nose with mortuary wax

To show that mortuary science is a field for anyone, reps from the Mid-America College of Funeral Services in Jeffersonville, Indiana spent a day with local Girl Scouts. The event was presented as part of Spark, an event series that "allows girls to meet women working in STEM fields."

News and Tribune:

Teachers and students from the college answered the Girl Scouts' questions about restorative art and gave them a quick tour of a reconstruction lab, where they learned about the embalming process and uses for various tools. The kids also received a crash course on how to sculpt body parts such as noses with mortuary wax, which is often used in funeral services to return bodies to a natural appearance...

Gohmann encourages more women and young people to enter STEM fields such as mortuary science, and she wants them to understand what funeral services involve to remove its stigma.

"In the past, you think of funeral directors being dour old men, and it's not," she said. "We're young women. We're grandmothers. We're mothers."

Screenshot via News and Tribune Read the rest

Rockstar: a programming language whose code takes the form of power ballads

Dylan Beattie created the (functional, but a) joke programming language "Rockstar" so that recruiters would be forced to end the odious practice of referring to people as "rockstar programmers." Read the rest

How Trump's tariff wall will punish small American businesses, kill US jobs, and benefit giant mulitnationals

Last month, the legendary hardware hacker and entrepreneur Andrew "bunnie" Huang (who is also a talented science communicator) published a great explainer on the quirks of the Trump China tariff plan, which exempts finished goods (like TVs), but imposes stiff taxes on components that are shipped from China to US factories for final assembly, a tactic common to the most innovative, cutting edge companies who fear having their trade secrets stolen by Chinese manufacturing contractors. Read the rest

Mattel finally made a "tech Barbie" that isn't terrible!

Ever since 1992's Math class is tough/let's go shopping scandal, Mattel has been trying to figure out how to make a more progressive Barbie, something to bring back the edgy glory-days of 1982's teen pregnancy Barbie. Read the rest

Trump's tariffs will kill making, especially STEM education, while encouraging US manufacturers to go offshore

With Trump poised to exact high tariffs on goods from China, it's tempting to declare the gadget party over: everyone is going to pay through the nose for electronics, from makers to Apple, and that's the end of the story, right? Read the rest

Flybrix: "rebuildable, crash-friendly drones" made from Lego

Flybrix kits allow you to turn a variety of Lego builds into little copter-drones that you can fly with an app or a Bluetooth joystick. Read the rest

Once again, Cards Against Humanity is offering full-ride scholarships for women in STEM

Cards Against Humanity put $1M into a permanent trust that pays for an annual full-ride scholarship for women in science, technology, engineering, or math who are high-school seniors or current undergrads. Read the rest

We need a new type of STEM role model

In this thoughtful TEDx talk, Mars rover engineer Abbie Hutty argues that rather than trying to entice young people to STEM fields with gregarious, genius role models like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, we need hardworking, introverted role models who demonstrate what most STEM professionals are actually like. Read the rest

Mechanical spinning globe that shows the night/day terminator

Elenco's Night 'n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins. Read the rest

A guide to making and learning for K-3 teachers

John Scott Tynes writes, "Alice Baggett is a third-grade technology teacher at Seattle Country Day School. She wrote this awesome guide for teachers of kindergarten through third grade to incorporate maker thinking and STEM projects into their classrooms. She loves supporting kids becoming creators, not just consumers, of technology and engineering. It would make a lovely gift for a teacher in your life!" Read the rest

Watch Mr. Wizard explain how to draw on a computer (1985)

In 1983, I wanted a light pen for my Apple IIe so badly that I built one from plans in this issue of Byte magazine. Mr. Wizard's light pen works better than mine ever did though. (Thanks UPSO!)

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